Kenneth and Claudia Robinette of Marston were honored as the Richmond Community College Foundation Citizens of the Year at the recognition banquet on Oct. 16 at the Cole Auditorium. The Robinette’s children, Neil and Gabrielle, G.R. Kindley, and RCC President Dale McInnis painted the picture of a couple whose love of family is closely followed by their dedication to serving their community and region.
Neil Robinette said his upbringing taught him to go beyond what is expected and go the extra mile in everything he does. His parents led by example.
“That has been my parents’ approach to every aspect of their lives,” he said. “They have a passion and commitment for everything they do. My mom takes on things and manages them very well with grace and calmness. She takes care of all around her. From her, I’ve learned that life’s tasks are not always easy.”
He described his dad as a perfectionist.
“He says anything worth doing, is worth doing well,” he said. “He has shown me the way by serving and fulfilling his obligations to the fullest. My parents have done everything with purpose and created opportunities for others that were not otherwise there.”
Gabrielle Robinette said her parents have integrity and do for others without expecting anything in return. She said they opened their arms to all of the children they brought home and treated them as family, including two football players who remain close to them today. When they left for college, her parents’ involvement in community, education, and civic endeavors continued to grow.
“My father has always thought about jobs,” she said. “My mother has been involved with education through RCC, public schools, and universities. My parents live so others have equal opportunities for success. They strive to provide support for others.”
G.R. Kindley counts the couple among his closest friends and business associates. As president of the RCC Foundation, he enjoyed asking the Robinettes to meet him at his office so he could see their faces when he told them of the honor.
“They were surprised and humbled,” he said. “They said they wondered what I wanted to talk about and had their checkbook ready. They are that kind of couple.”
Kindley said Kenneth Robinette came to Richmond County 30 years ago and quickly became a cornerstone in the community having been elected to the county board of commissioners in 1996 and serving as chairman since 1998. Claudia has been his partner and supported him as well as serving on boards in her own right.
“I serve with them on the Discovery Place Kids cabinet, done things with them at the high school, and been business partners,” Kindley said. “I have asked them to support or serve in numerous ways, and they have always complied with honesty and integrity. They have done for individuals without their knowledge. They don’t just give money; they give their time and put a lot of effort into everything they do, and always stay down to earth. Those are rare values, which they have instilled in their children. You’re a great team working together for the betterment of Richmond County, and I’m proud of your accomplishments.”
RCC President Dale McInnis said the Robinettes are a united, successful couple whose active leadership and support of the college and its students made them an ideal choice for this year’s recognition.
“Claudia has been an RCC Trustee for over 14 years,” he said. “She served on the steering committee that helped make our Forte Campaign a success and has led our board’s salaries and personnel committee with great wisdom and insight. She is held in highest regard by all of our trustees for her professionalism and dedication to the college.”
During the summer, McInnis invited Kenneth Robinette to join college leaders in traveling to Erie, Pennsylvania, to talk with leaders of The Plastek Group about their needs regarding their Hamlet plant. Robinette spent three days demonstrating to Plastek and RCC that jobs are important in Richmond County.
“Kenneth is a bold leader at a time when we need bold leaders,” McInnis said. “You always know where you stand with Kenneth, and he is always standing up to make our county a better place to live and work. Like Claudia, he is also a champion for RCC, working to strengthen our partnership with the county and the quality of our facilities and our campus.”
The Robinettes stood together at the podium looking out at the crowd of college donors and special guests and gave their thanks for the recognition.
“Looking at the list of those honored in the past you see a list of distinguished people,” Claudia said. “It is an honor to be among them. I’d like to thank everyone here for what you have done for this institution through scholarships and donations.”
Kenneth Robinette thanked numerous people for the support they have given him through the years that allowed him to accomplish the things he has done.
“I’m proud to be a very small part of RCC,” he said. “Claudia and I make a good team. Everything we do is important to us, especially our family and church. Everyone here is special to us. Thank you so much for this recognition.”